The Academy Awards, which have been held since 1929, aim to recognize “excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences.” Despite this goal, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the organization behind the awards) has over the years overlooked numerous films that are widely agreed upon as being of exceptional quality.
The 93rd Academy Awards are scheduled for April 25, 2021, about two months later than usual due to coronavirus pandemic. In order for movies to be nominated, they need to have been released in movie theaters for a certain period. The delay, it is hoped, will allow for more theaters to open to foot traffic. Still, to mark the usual beginning of the awards season, 24/7 Tempo has identified the greatest movies that should have won an Oscar, and from the list picked the top one based on several criteria.
Though some didn’t, many of the greatest movies that never won an Oscar received nominations. In some cases, they received far more nominations than average. Yet, for one reason or another, these movies were beaten by the competition.
These films have often been recognized in other ways. Some have been inducted into the U.S. National Film Registry, which aims to “showcase the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.” Others have won other distinguished film awards, such as Golden Globes.
The movies on the list all fit the criteria necessary to win an Oscar. The academy historically has favored serious dramas, movies that address social issues and those that feature well-known actors. Many of the movies on the list fit one of the criteria, if not more. Many of them also feature talent (both in front of and behind the camera) that did win Oscars, either prior to or after the release of their losing film. Some of Hollywood’s most loved entertainers star in many of the movies on the list. These are the most popular Oscar winners of all time.
To determine the greatest movies that should have won an Oscar, 24/7 Tempo considered numerous metrics, including Rotten Tomatoes average critic and audience ratings, the average user ratings on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and total Oscar nominations. Editorial discretion (and knowledge of specific films) also was used in order to determine which movies align with trends exhibited by other films that have won Oscars. A movie’s likelihood of winning an award can be influenced by its distributor, actors, directors, genres, themes and box office success. Only movies that did not win any competitive Academy Awards were included.
At the top of the list is “12 Angry Men,” which was made in 1957. It was directed by Sidney Lumet and starred Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and Martin Balsam. Its IMDb rating is 8.9/10 The film received three Oscar nominations.
Most of Sidney Lumet’s drama about 12 jurors battling over the guilt or innocence of a minority youth charged with murder takes place in one room but is no less riveting, showcasing America’s racial attitudes of the 1950s front and center. The film failed to win any awards at the 1958 Academy Awards but has lived on as a classic. The film was the first of five Best Director nominations for Lumet. For this one, he lost Best Director to David Lean, who directed “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” On Rotten Tomatoes, the film registers a 100% Freshness rating among critics, and 97% of audiences like it.